Michael A. Yorio, President SSI Guardian
That exciting time of the year is upon us when students, faculty and staff return to their schools and college campuses. Students are anxious to rejoin their classmates, embarking upon their next grade level. Back to school season is full of hope, challenge and enthusiasm but during this busy period it is imperative that safety is not overlooked. While there are numerous things to be considered, here is a short list of tips that we all should follow.
Avoid Labeling Items With Visible Name
You might want your kid to be able to find their backpack or jacket easily, or you might think it’s cute to put their name on their lunchbox, but for criminals it’s a golden ticket. A child is much more likely to respond to or trust a stranger who knows their name. Don’t make that information so easily accessible, keep name tags on the interior and use obscure identification on the outside such as a favorite number.
What Do Strangers Look Like?
Talking about avoiding strangers is important, but it’s also key to remind kids that strangers aren’t always the stereotypical creeps that are shown on TV and in movies. Explain that strangers can be anyone, and can even look nice. Most crimes committed against children are by adults that are known to them and even trusted, so it’s important to highlight suspicious behaviors that aren’t normal for an adult to do.
Activities your kids should know are suspicious include: a strange adult asking for help, someone telling them to keep a secret from their parents, or someone asking them to go with them somewhere without asking permission.
If a stranger tries to talk to your kids when you are not with them and they feel scared, remind them that they should look for a police officer, a mother, or other adult with children to report it.
Teach Situational Awareness
Everyone is safer when we practice basic situational awareness. As we were told growing up, “If something doesn’t seem right, it’s probably not right”. Children should learn to be always be aware of their surroundings, be cautious of strangers and events that are outside of their normal activities.